Intermountain has seen an increase in the number of caregivers who have COVID-19 in the last few weeks, and more than 90 percent of these caregivers were infected outside of work. Caregivers have increased risks of catching COVID-19 in the community. The Delta variant and significant growth in COVID-19 cases are causing a greater number of caregiver outbreaks at our facilities, resulting in pockets of reduced staffing across Intermountain.
We’re also seeing less consistent use of PPE best practices both in our work environments and communities, and that’s contributing to increasing COVID-19 exposures and infections. Some caregivers are working in close spaces with each other and using fewer safe practices when gathering in breakrooms and common areas. Communities have a more relaxed position on masking and increased social gatherings.
It’s more important than ever to follow PPE and COVID-19 safety guidelines. Even if you’re fully vaccinated, continue to follow Intermountain’s current PPE guidelines. We have a good supply of PPE and following our guidelines will keep you safe.
Use the guidelines below to evaluate how well you’re doing, and identify areas you can improve safety:
General PPE guidelines:
- Get a COVID-19 vaccination.
- For caregivers in patient or visitor-facing areas, wear procedure masks and eye protection.
- Wear face shields as they’re still the best practice and provide the needed eye protection.
- Wear an N95 or PAPR respirator when you perform an aerosolizing procedure. Intermountain has a good supply of N95s if you’re fit tested and would like to wear one in place of a procedure mask.
- For caregivers in non-patient or non-visitor-facing areas, wear a mask.
- Practice proper hand hygiene and wash your hands frequently.
- Practice physical distancing.
- Review the required PPE guidelines: English | Spanish.
For breakrooms and eating/drinking:
- Limit the number of people in a breakroom to allow for six feet between people, and don’t eat together.
- Use conference rooms as extended breakrooms to spread out, and don’t sit close to other caregivers.
- Eat outdoors away from other people.
- Review breakroom safety guidelines here.
For workspace areas:
- Sanitize high-touch areas regularly, including phones, keyboards and mice, door handles, etc.
- Spread out in workspaces as much as possible to limit physical environmental risk.
- Review how to clean your workspace here.
- Address the basic safety guidelines for any in-person meetings, including wearing masks, physical distancing, and hand hygiene.
- Ensure six feet of distancing.
For patients and visitors:
- We’re open to serve all patients, and we also require masks in our facilities for all patients, visitors, and caregivers. Masks must be worn at all times inside our facilities.
- Emergency patients should be escorted rapidly to the Emergency Department regardless of masking.
- Please let patients know our masking requirement when scheduling appointments. Also ensure the appointment reminder texts for your practice or clinic include “masks required at our facility” in the message to patients.
- Reinforce at entrances and in our facilities that all patients and visitors must wear masks in our facilities. Masks are available at entrances for patients and visitors.
- Don’t turn away people seeking care for themselves. Sometimes medical reasons (for example, a facial abnormality) prevent patients from wearing a mask. If a patient can’t wear a mask, ensure you’re protected with the highest protection: your N-95 or PAPR. Support the patient by providing a mask for conversation and evaluation. If this isn’t feasible, consider referring to urgent care for acute evaluation and deferring the in-person visit until safe. To address instances when patients won’t wear a mask:
- Respectfully encourage wearing a mask to keep caregivers and other patients safe, and provide one
- Offer a video visit at a later time, or at the same time if the person takes the video visit from their car or outside
- Ask the patient to postpone care until they’re comfortable wearing a mask (if the care isn’t time-sensitive)
- See in person: Have the patient stay in their car until it’s their turn to be move to an exam room to minimize in-room/clinic time. Consider doing the physical exam at the car (outdoors) if appropriate in combination with a video visit.
- Encourage patients to come with as few people as they can to appointments, to our clinics, and to our hospitals. Don’t allow entrance to visitors who refuse to mask.
- Call security immediately if patients or visitors express violent or disruptive behaviors. Access other de-escalation methods for support.
For time away from work:
- Practice safe guidelines including physical distancing and hand hygiene, even if you’ve been vaccinated.
- Wear a mask in public indoor settings or crowded outdoor settings in areas where there are high COVID-19 transmission rates. Transmission rates for Utah, Idaho, and Nevada.
Please evaluate how you’re following each of the guidelines above in your workday and outside of work, and then make any necessary adjustments. We want caregivers to stay safe and protected during this increase in COVID-19 spread. If you have questions, talk with your leaders. The PPE Taskforce, Infection Prevention, Employee Health, and other clinical leaders are continually assessing how to keep caregivers and patients safe.
Also, please don’t come to work if you’re sick, even if you have mild cold symptoms. Mild symptoms can also be COVID-19, especially among vaccinated caregivers. Please get tested right away, as test are most accurate within the first days of symptoms and stay at home to avoid getting others sick. Whether you’ve been exposed at work or at home, contact Ask HR at 801-442-7547 or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for Employee Health triage and testing. Physicians and APPs should call Ask HR or their dedicated hotline, available 24/7, at 801-442-6765.
Caregivers can also complete a new self-serve process for testing on the Employee Health site. Click the green “COVID self-serve testing” button for email instructions about self-serve testing. Click the blue “return to work” button for return to work instructions.